Paul Walter makes some good points today over on Lib Dem Voice about the frequent (non-) communication between the centre and Liberal Democrat members and supporters when an issue breaks in the news.
His views mirror my own, and apply even when the breaking issue is one where the party has a good, solid story to tell. Why, for example, was it left to me to spot that there was a rapidly building set of anger about the number of Liberal Democrat MPs who had apparently abstained on same-sex marriage, to find out what the truth was (that nearly all of them had good reasons for being absent from the vote, such as one having given birth the day before) and then get the message out?
Thanks are certainly due to the various people I contacted to pull together the information, especially Ed Fordham and also including some who work at “the centre” who responded quickly to my questions, but why was I, with some help from Ed and responses from others, left to do the job? Especially on an issue like this where if you leave it a day or two before communicating, people’s perceptions are already set and it then becomes that much harder to shift them.
From the volume of traffic to my post and the extensive discussions it spawned on Twitter, Facebook and discussion forums, the information was clearly wanted, it clearly went down well with members, supporters and the public, and it even got picked up by several mainstream media outlets with their large audiences.
The problem seems to be that far too often the more members and supporters are questioning why the party is doing something, the less the communication is. Or to turn the points Paul and I have made into a graph, the problem is that the usual pattern is this:
Just sometimes hunkering down and saying almost nothing, even to your members, is right. But that should be the rare exception, not the norm.
Nice to see Austin Rathe from party HQ follow up on this: